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amphetamine (ămfĕtˈəmēn), any one of a group of drugs that are powerful central nervous system stimulants. Amphetamines have stimulating effects opposite to the effects of depressants such as alcohol, narcotics, and barbiturates. They raise the blood pressure by causing the body to release epinephrine, postpone the need for sleep, and can reverse, partially and temporarily, the effects of fatigue. Amphetamines enhance mental alertness and the ability to concentrate, and also cause wakefulness, euphoria, and talkativeness. Benzedrine is the trade name for the drug amphetamine; dextroamphetamine is marketed as Dexedrine. Methamphetamine, a potent stimulant marketed as Desoxyn, is the most rapidly acting amphetamine. They are available by prescription for limited uses; illegal sources include stolen or diverted supplies or clandestine laboratories.


Prescription amphetamines have been used for short periods of time in weight-control programs to suppress appetite and to treat narcolepsy. They were used as vasoconstrictors in inhalant therapy to shrink nasal mucous membranes in such conditions as nasal allergies and asthma; now such inhalants have been banned because of their toxicity. For unknown reasons, amphetamines have a paradoxically calming effect on some hyperactive children, but the use of these drugs to treat such children has been controversial.

Amphetamine Abuse

Popularly known as bennies, crank, speed, pep pills, wakeups, or uppers, amphetamines are addictive and easily abused: users can become psychologically dependent on the drugs and, developing a tolerance for them, can require increasingly large doses (see drug addiction and drug abuse). When the drugs wear off, a long period of sleep ensues, often followed by hunger and depression, which can lead to further use of amphetamines. Amphetamine addiction has been common among such diverse groups as truck drivers, students, and athletes, who have used the drugs for increased energy, alertness, or endurance. Methamphetamine, made from ephedrine and other chemicals in clandestine laboratories in the the United States or Mexico, experienced a resurgence in use in the United States beginning the mid-1990s, and its abuse also has increased worldwide. Amphetamines are inhaled, taken orally, or injected; as with other injected drugs, needle sharing increases the risk of contracting the AIDS virus. One form of methamphetamine, “ice,” is smoked. For law enforcement purposes in the United States, most amphetamines are grouped with such drugs as cocaine and morphine because of the similarity in their effects, medical usefulness, and high potential for abuse.

Side Effects

Amphetamines can produce severe systemic effects, including cardiac irregularities and gastric disturbances. Chronic use often results in insomnia, hyperactivity, irritability, and aggressive behavior. Addiction can result in psychosis or death from overexhaustion or cardiac arrest. Amphetamine-induced psychosis often mimics schizophrenia, with paranoia and hallucinations.
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C6H5CH2CHNHCH3 A volatile, colorless liquid used as a central nervous system stimulant.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a synthetic colourless volatile liquid used medicinally as the white crystalline sulphate, mainly for its stimulant action on the central nervous system, although it also stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. It can have unpleasant or dangerous side effects and drug dependence can occur; 1-phenyl-2-aminopropane. Formula: C6H5CH2CH(NH2)CH3
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Neimann (38) examined sports-related sudden deaths and found that cases of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy-related deaths resulted from amphetamine abuse. Hong et al, (39) reported methamphetamine smoking and its cardiovascular toxic effects.
An acute coronary syndrome was diagnosed in 25% of patients presenting to the ED with chest pain after methamphetamine use.2 Amphetamine abuse may play a role in acute myocardial infarction.
The court heard that the elder Mr Jobson had a history of cocaine and amphetamine abuse and had caused discord in the family by taking up with another woman soon after the death of his wife, Ethel, from cirrhosis in December 2001.
Employed people made up 48 percent of the admissions for alcohol abuse, 37 percent of the admissions of marijuana/hashish abuse, and nearly one-quarter of the admissions for heroin abuse, smoked-cocaine abuse, and methamphet-amine/ amphetamine abuse. The college-educated group represented 26 percent of the admissions for alcohol abuse and nearly 20 percent of the admissions for heroin or cocaine abuse.
International Drug Control Program (UNDCP), with the cooperation of the Japanese Foreign and Health and Welfare ministries, will sponsor a meeting on countermeasures against amphetamine abuse, which is rising sharply in Asia, the official said.
The report said that the killing was precipitated by amphetamine abuse.
Introduction to amphetamine abuse. Journal of Psychedelic Drugs, 2(2), 1-16.
This tendency toward violence results from the chemically induced paranoia that attends amphetamine abuse and makes the abuser completely unpredictable.
There has been a 60% increase in the number of treatments started for amphetamine abuse, up from 452 in 2013-14 to 717 in 2014-15.
Amphetamine abuse was said to have provoked the suspects to commit the appalling crime.
Washington, Dec 15 (ANI): A new research has suggested that ingesting moderate amount of alcohol may increase an individual's risk of amphetamine abuse.
(32) Particularly concerning is that up to 40% of patients with bipolar disorder may have a history of amphetamine abuse. (33)